North Shore Beach Club: “We Are Not to Blame for LGBT Pool Party Cancellation”

This week, Philly LGBT party producer Josh Schonewolf (Songbird, Mr. Everything) announced on Facebook that his weekly LGBT swim party at North Shore Beach Club, Drink or Swim, had been canceled. The post generated a lot of comments from disappointed swimmers and some who called North Shore homophobic. That latter comment stems from a situation in 2013 when several events were canceled following a particularly disorganized QFest event.

Schonewolf told me that, prior to being canceled, he’d received “five different excuses,” before eventually being told that they wouldn’t be doing any promotional events. “The way they went about it was really dismissive,” he told me. “This event meant a lot to a lot of LGBT folks, and they wouldn’t even schedule a meeting to discuss bringing it back. … It’s a hot mess.”

Schonewolf had publicized the event on Facebook, saying it would begin after Memorial Day. “I had the event page, with 600 people attending, that I’ve been promoting for 3 months. So why wouldn’t you want 600 peoples’ money—gay, straight or whatever? It makes no sense.”

North Shore is just as baffled. I reached out to General Manager Kyle Stoudnour, who told me that Drink or Swim was never canceled. “This has turned into a fiasco,” he said. “[Schonewolf] went on Facebook and said it was canceled—and I never told him that. All these people started making comments that we’re homophobic. It has nothing to do with being against gays.” Stoudnour shared the email exchange he sent to Schonewolf before the cancellation was announced:

I spoke with management team about Drink or Swim for the 2015 summer season and we aren’t able to confirm your event at this time. We know that last year your party was a hit to the LGBT community, but we need to focus on our members for the club at this time.  We do offer cabanas for groups and if people would like to come on Mondays that are members, they can book a cabana for a minimum and bring friends. If you would like to check back after June 1st to see where we stand that would be great. Thanks for keeping in contact regarding your event and we will be in touch if anything changes.

The key phrase, he says, is “If you would like to check back after June 1st to see where we stand that would be great,” which doesn’t entirely sound like a cancellation. But Schonewolf responded with a curt “Okay, no Drink or Swim. Got it.” That’s around the time he took to Facebook.

Schonewolf claims there was a verbal agreement: “[Stoudnour] said it would come back. As soon as I asked to meet him or call to chat about it… He would not reply. The owner and I spoke on the phone last month and he said he wanted to do the event as an early one this year, a happy hour timeframe. He also said it would have to start after Memorial Day. It was poor communication from the beginning. I don’t work that way. I don’t just slop events together. Their indecisiveness made me lose valuable marketing time. And so yesterday when they told me that I should touch base June 1st … I don’t work that way.”

Stoudnour says that, even though the party was never officially booked or confirmed, the bridge has been burned. “He made us look bad on Facebook,” he says. “He blew it up for no reason.” As far as the comments that North Shore is homophobic, Stoudnour, who is gay, says it’s nonsense. “We have a lot of gay members. We are hosting [PhillyGayCalendar‘s] Boys of Summer party later this year.”

The issue, besides terrible communication, he says, is that “Our season doesn’t start till Memorial Day. We’re still not fully prepared to start doing parties or even know what we want to do with parties. Our hours have changed—we will no longer open till 2 am. We don’t have the staff at night to do parties, and we weren’t sure which direction we wanted to take.”